Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Politics and Poker

Many of you know that Dr. Tape is a big fan of poker.  Playing it, watching it on TV and reading the latest books or magazines about it are among my favorite pastimes.  Back in December I actually came in 8th out of 858 entries at a World Series of Poker circuit event at Harrah's in Atlantic City. Here is the link showing the results; http://www.cardplayer.com/poker-tournaments/4017-2012-wsop-circuit-harah-s-resort-atlantic-city/1096979/results. So far it is the highlight of my poker career.

Recently the topic of legal, on-line poker has become very hot in this country.  Some states are moving towards legalization while others are "exploring" the possibility.  Is this a good thing? I am not quite sure.  The allure of being able to play poker from home in my underwear is very appealing.  Just boot up and join in.  No more 2 hour drives to Atlantic City or Foxwoods.  But the potential for malfeasance looms large. Can they prevent cheating on-line?  I am not an expert so I don't know what the story is but there are rumors abounding that the hands weren't actually random and that there is software that allows one player to see what cards the other players were dealt.  Can this be true?  And of course there are the politicians.

The thing that is currently holding up progress is the politicians.  With the economy in the tank and our municipalities in over their heads (like Stockton, CA) politicians are always looking for new sources of tax revenue. When they smell potential new taxes its like a group (herd?, flock?) of Great Whites attacking a wounded seal.  They all want a piece of the action and they will fight to protect this turf. After all that's what they live for. Right now if you win less than $5000.00 in a casino (at least the casinos that I go to) nobody (ie the taxman) knows about it.  The way things are shaping up with on-line play is that you will be taxed from the very first dollar. I think this is being lost on the people that are advocating on-line play.

What will the result be?  I fear that legalized on-line poker will become a vast wasteland similar to off-track betting on races.  It will become a patronage job given to some well connected political lackey that will mismanage it into oblivion while squeezing every penny out of it that they can. That's why its a casino for me. Or a good home game.

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